RSF Association acquires ‘special’ piece of nature: The Ewing Preserve

The Association-owned Ewing Preserve.
(Karen Billing)

The Rancho Santa Fe Association recently accepted a gift of land from the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation.

The Association now owns the Ewing Preserve, a 24.7-acre parcel of eucalyptus forest, limestone and rare plants in the southeast portion of the Covenant, stretching between Linea Del Cielo and Via De Alba. The Rancho Santa Fe Foundation’s contract stipulates that the property shall forever be used as open space and as a dedicated natural area preserve.

“We’re really excited to get this property into shape, encourage recreation and educate people on the rare, natural resource that they have in their backyards,” said Caitlin Kreutz, environmental resource coordinator. “The Ewing Preserve is a special place.”

The preserve is one of the few remaining areas comprised of Southern Maritime Chapparal, an endangered plant community. Several rare and endangered plant species also call the Ewing Preserve home, including Nuttal’s Scrub Oak and Del Mar Manzanita.

Several rare plants make their home in the Ewing Preserve.
(Karen Billing)

The Association has formed a partnership with the San Diego Zoo’s rare plant conservation department to collect, store and propagate these endangered plants and ensure the species’ survival. Kreutz said there might be some opportunities for citizen science with Association members in those efforts.

Going forward, the Association will be collaborating with the Chaparral Lands Conservancy and California Native Plant Society to do vegetation surveys and create a land management and conservation plan for the preserve.

The Ewing Preserve Trail has long been a favorite for equestrians with its gently rolling hills, the quiet solitude amidst the trees and its vista views—“The trail serves as a big connector from this side of the Ranch to the golf course,” Kreutz said.

The Ewing Preserve Trail alongside the oaks.
(Karen Billing)

One of the easiest ways to access the property is from the brand new Laurie Lane trail, found near the intersection of Laurie Lane and Via de Alba.

“This property is open for business so I invite all of you to take a hike through it, it’s absolutely gorgeous,” RSF Association Manager Christy Whalen said at the board’s Dec. 1 meeting. “We’re really excited that we’ve got this new piece of property.”

While the property has great conservation and recreational value, the main goal in the acquisition is fire safety. This year, the Association in collaboration with the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District identified areas of fire risk within the Ewing Preserve, with many of its eucalyptus trees dead or dying. Eucalyptus is one of the main factors contributing to increased fire risk due to their high flammability and capacity to eject embers up to a mile away, Kreutz said.

Utilizing its FireWatch database, the Association plans to begin fuel reduction and fire risk mitigation efforts in the coming year, placing the highest emphasis on areas abutting nearby homes and in the lower canyons.

RSF Association's Caitlin Kreitz in the Ewing Preserve.
(Karen Billing)